Local Search: 6 Types of Data to Include in Your Local Listings

Local search is one of the best ways to generate leads. A quality local search presence starts with taking control of your business listings and providing the key points of data that consumers are looking for as they make purchase decisions.
The type of information you can provide varies by publisher, but you should make sure to include these 6 types of data in all your local listings to ensure that your online presence is cohesive and consistent.

1. Business Name, Address, Phone Number, and Hours

Make sure you enter this information exactly the same way across all sites and apps to avoid duplicate entries (e.g. don’t submit Joe’s Towing to one site and Joe’s Towing, Inc. on another). This can cause a less than optimal experience for consumers who may be looking at your listings in multiple places.

2. Service Area

If you have a business that doesn’t have a physical street address, or one that offers deliveries to a specific region, you’ll want to include your service area.

3. Business Categories

Select relevant business categories, as these are the keywords consumers will use to locate a specific business, product, or service. For example, if you own an Italian restaurant that serves pizza and subs, you might choose the categories Restaurant, Pizza, Subs, and Italian.

4. Your Business Description

Provide a concise description of your business that includes the city and state you service.

5. Relevant Keywords

Use keywords whenever possible so that local consumers can find the information they need. This provides a positive experience for the consumer.

6. Rich Content and Links

In addition to your basic information, you can also include rich content such as photos, menus, product and service lists, videos, special offers, and more. Additionally, you can provide links to your company website, social media accounts, and directions to help people find you online and in person.

The Bottom Line

Providing cohesive, detailed information about your business on listings sites and apps will ensure that consumers can find you when they perform a local search, which means more leads for your business.

Want to learn more about how you can use local listings to benefit your small business? Download our free eBook, The Mechanics of Local Listings today.

Local Listings Information—Where Does It Come From?

Over the past few years, the way consumers find and choose restaurants, spas, contractors, stores, and entertainment has evolved dramatically. No longer are people turning to print magazines, local guides, and newspapers to find information about businesses—they’re performing online searches. Ensuring that your business appears in local search results is a crucial marketing effort. Not only do you want your business listed, you also want your business information to be complete and accurate everywhere consumers are looking.

However, this is easier said that done. You may have already researched your online listings and found a variety of misinformation on different sites and apps. And you may be wondering where, exactly, these publishers get their local listings information from.

While each publisher has its own methods for gathering and validating data, the 6 main sources are:

1. Consumers

Some sites and apps allow users to add information about a business, regardless of whether or not they’re affiliated with the business.

2. Business direct claims/submissions

This is when someone directly affiliated with the business provides information to publishers.

3. Listing management services

These services (such as SinglePlatform) help small businesses manage their listings across multiple publishers from a single location.

4. Data aggregators

This source compiles business listing information from multiple channels such as public records, surveys, utilities, merchants, agencies, and web-mining efforts.

5. Vertical-specific providers

This source gathers and sells category-specific business information to others.

6. Scraping

Some publishers use scripts to extract or “scrape” business information from websites.

With all of these sources providing publishers with information, the task of reclaiming your local listings may seem daunting. But never fear. Our latest publication, “The Mechanics of Local Listings,” will walk you through the steps you should take to make sure your business has a cohesive presence across all local search sites and apps. Download the free eBook today.

6 Ways to Enhance Your Online Business Listings

If you’ve researched, claimed, and updated your online business listings, you’ve taken a huge step toward engaging with potential customers. But even if your store hours, contact information, and menu are up to date, you can still do more to entice readers and educate them about the value of your business.
Here are six ways to supercharge your online listings:

1. Add Your Service Area

If your business delivers to or provides services in a limited area, make sure to include this in your listings to avoid frustrating potential customers who are outside your zone.

2. Include Specials and Promotions

Are you excited about a new product, service, or short-term offer? Chances are, your online readers will be, too. Adding specials and promotions to your listings can help you get additional customers in the door with minimal effort.

3. Post Photos of Your Store and Products

“A picture speaks a thousand words”—it may be a cliché, but it’s true. In today’s visually-oriented world, photos are a powerful way to represent your business and pique viewers’ interest.

4. Detail Parking and Public Transit Options

It might not seem important, but showing that your business is easy to get to may be the deciding factor for a potential customer. If they know they don’t have to hassle with street parking, or that your store is just a block from the nearest bus station, they may be more likely to come to you than one of your less-conveniently-located competitors.

5. Link to Your Social Media Accounts

A business listing is an important marketing tool, but it’s designed for short-term interaction. Encouraging visitors to connect with you on social media will keep the conversation going.

The Bottom Line

Today’s choosy consumers want as much information as possible before making a purchase decision. The more robust your online listings are, the better chance you’ll have of securing new business.

Did you know? SinglePlatform can help you make all of these listings enhancements with a single update! Learn more.

7 Ways You Can Take Control of Your Online Listings

The ways consumers find new businesses has changed a lot in recent years.
In addition to search engines like Google or Bing, consumers are using city guides like Citysearch, review sites like Yelp, and mobile apps like Foursquare to discover new businesses. This is great news because there are now even more ways for new customers to find you.

But it also creates a bit of a problem.

There are now more places for you to manage. Many of these listings are automatically generated and can often contain incorrect or out-of-date information. This incorrect or out-of-date information is not the first impression you want someone to have of your business.

That’s why it’s so important to be in control of your online listings.

Here are 7 ways to do it:

1. Identify your industry’s hot spots

Take the time to identify the places that your target audience is turning to when searching for businesses similar to yours.

The best way to do this is to search for your business on a site like Google and see what type of results show up. Be on the lookout for any publishers that specialize in your particular industry, as they will offer the biggest opportunity to reach your next great customer.

Once you have an inventory of the information that’s out there, you can start to take steps to control it.

2. Claim your listings

A lot of the top publishers will give you the opportunity to “claim” your listings.

This is something all businesses should take advantage of. Claiming your listings lets you take control of the information that people are finding on these sites.

You can manually update contact information, upload photos, and even share updates about specials and promotions, depending on the platform you decide to use.

3. Optimize your website with location information

Publishers like TripAdvisor or UrbanSpoon rely on your websites to populate their platforms.

Making sure your contact information is up to date on your own site will help avoid having potential new customers sent to the wrong location.

4. Offer location information to data aggregators

As you may suspect, collecting information from across the web and publishing it in a single location is hard work. That’s why many of the top publishers rely on data aggregators to provide relevant information about your brand.

While it’s natural to want to be protective of your information online, making basic information like location available to these companies can go a long way in keeping your listings up-to-date.

5. Encourage reviews and recommendations on social

You may not realize it, but the interactions you have on social media can positively impact your search result rankings. That will improve your chances of getting the highest quality of information in front of potential customers when they’re searching for your business online.

Encouraging your fans and followers to share feedback and interact with your business on sites like Yelp or Foursquare will also help ensure the quality of user-generated content. The reason being is that it will be coming from people who know you best.

6. Pay to sponsor listings

Just like you can pay to promote posts on sites like Facebook or Twitter, you can also pay to sponsor your listing on a number of the top listing sites.

This is another option you may want to consider after identifying the places where potential customers are most likely to be looking.

While this won’t help update information on other sites, it will increase the visibility of your best information on your most important platforms.

7. Find a better solution

As you can see, a lot of work goes into taking control of your online listings. And you may have already started forming a mental to-do list while reading this post.

The good news is that there is an alternative to doing it all on your own.

With a tool like SinglePlatform, you can manage all of your listings from one place and make updates across our entire publishing network of search engines, city guides, review sites, and mobile apps. You can also add your menu, products, and services everywhere that matters online.

Find out how SinglePlatform can help you take control!

Rich Digital Listings are Good for All Local Businesses

If you’re like most people, when you hear the word menu your first thought is probably about a restaurant.  But the fact is that anyone who offers products and services can –and should- have a menu that tells potential customers what you offer and how much it costs.
Think about it this way, you would never build a website that didn’t say what you sold.  And you’d never have people in your store without showing them your products.  So why is it that so many local businesses don’t look at their online listings the same way?

In talking to small businesses, I see three primary reasons:

  1. They’ve invested in their website and want all of their traffic to go there.   Anyone who has ever built a website for their business can attest to the fact that you have an emotional attachment to it.  You’ve poured time and money into the site and you want people to see it.  Which is all understandable except for one problem, it’s not a very customer friendly notion.  If the end goal is to drive store traffic or inquiries, you want to reduce the number of steps involved between someone searching and taking action.  The more information you can provide at the point of discovery, the better  (even if that means lower visitor numbers to your web site.)
  2. They don’t have an easy way to digitize their “menu.”  Most small business owners have outsourced their web development and the idea of paying hundreds of dollars to add or update what they offer is an unplanned and potentially unreasonable cost.   With self-service tools (like SinglePlatform) available to update and integrate your menu on your website, you don’t have to pay a web developer every time you want to add a new item or change a price.
  3. They aren’t thinking about their online listings at all.  We recently conducted research that shows 49% of small business owners have never updated their online listings.   That means that they could be inaccurate and outdated, and almost definitely don’t include a digital menu of your offerings.  That also means that most local businesses aren’t putting themselves in the best possible position to attract new customers.

The truth is that today’s consumers are less likely to truly “shop” than ever before.  They want to find a place via online or mobile search sites and apps that has what they are looking for in the limited time that they have to get things done.  Simply put, if you’re not creating a digital menu of products and services for your business, potential shoppers  are more likely to choose someone who is.